News Views: Pick them up

Used syringes are frequently being found in parks and around schools, especially in the heart of Maple Ridge.

A doctor from Fraser Health told Maple Ridge council this week that used syringes found in local parks and near schools are no more dangerous than a rusty nail.

No worries then, because a rusty nail isn’t dangerous?

Lucky we get tetanus shots.

And it’s not like citizens are going around town, collecting rusty nails by the bucket, anyway.

No, they’re picking up dozens, if not hundreds of discarded, used syringes, some still filled with fluids, including what appears to be blood.

Maple Ridge has a drug problem, as evidenced by recent overdoses, arrests and warnings.

Recently, an employee for the Purpose Society who handed out needles to drug users quit because the job became too demanding.

Other agencies, such as Alouette Addictions, also dispense syringes as part of a harm reduction strategy.

And the number of them being issued is increasing.

That is good, we’re told.

However, used syringes are frequently being found in parks and around schools, especially in the heart of Maple Ridge.

Some caring, concerned citizens have taken up regular patrols of those areas and are picking up and properly disposing of the needles themselves.

City staff usually do so, but council wants Fraser Health to take that on and asked about a needle exchange.

Fraser Health, however, said one-for-one exchanges are an impediment to accessing clean supplies.

Fraser Health does have a program which encourages drug users to bring in used syringes, and will provide volunteers with needle collection boxes.

But that’s not good enough.

No one is questioning the validity or success of the harm reduction strategy, nor the medical facts that discarded, used syringes pose little risk of passing on diseases.

But the latter is still a sharp object, and en masse a blight on this community.

Maple Ridge rightly wants them off the streets.

Fraser Health must recognize that this is an issue of responsibility.

Our city is being treated like a garbage dump.

You can’t hand out needles by the thousands, to those who are most vulnerable in our society, and expect them to just disappear.

Fraser Health needs to get to work and pick them up.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News